In the world of “vintage” iPhone photo apps, you have a lot of choices. You have apps that make your photos look they were taken in the ’70s, that change the brightness and saturation to give you ultra-bright photos, or that let you swap out virtual lenses, film, and camera bodies. And now, finally, there is an app that makes it look like your photos were used to label games for the venerable Atari 2600 game console.
What is it?
I hope kids realize they’re living in an age of wonders: home gaming systems are now powerful enough to actually look like real things. Dragons look like dragons rather than ducks, your two-handed sword bursts into magical flame that licks up the glistening steel rather than being represented as a yellow arrow that always points right (<-), and you can carefully customize your character’s appearance, when back in the ’80s you were a 4 bit square.
So, to help sell the game, the designers would produce artwork that would tell you what to imagine you were supposed to be seeing while squares wielding right arrows fought deadly ducks. Sure, it looked like van art, but back then, van art was cool. So, retro game art is looked upon with great nostalgia because the box art had to be better than the game inside.
How does it work?
RetroLabel 2600 is a simple program; you take a photo (or add it from your library), and it’s placed in the middle of a frame that resembles an Atari 2600 cartridge. You can customize the text and text color (but cannot change the all-important font face), add a copyright notice, and choose which kind of controller (joystick, paddle, or drive) that your fictional game will use.
From there you can share the picture on social media, email or save it.
Is it contagious?
How much you’ll love this app depends on how much you love the Atari 2600, or how ironically humorous it is to you and your hipster friends. Think of it as a LOLcats generator for the retro gaming set. The photo itself is a small part of the overall image, so the usefulness depends on how much work you’re willing to put into the captions.
It’s a fun app, and easy to use, but the joke got old after a few days.